Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Stem Cell Agency Calls Off Budget Session: No Public Info Available

The California stem cell agency today cancelled its Thursday review of its proposed budget for the next fiscal year after it failed to supply any information to the public on the spending plan.

The agency did not offer any explanation for the postponement of the meeting of the directors' Finance Subcommittee. Don Gibbons, CIRM's chief communications officer, also did not respond to a query early today from the California Stem Cell Report concerning the reasons for cancellation of the session.

On Tuesday, in an item headlined, “CIRM Stiffs the Public on Spending Plan," we reported that the $3 billion agency had “extended its practice of withholding important information from the public – this time in connection with its proposed budget for 2010-11.”

The item also said,
“At last year's budget meeting of the Finance Subcommitte, five CIRM directors publicly expressed displeasure at the lack of material made available to them concerning the budget. The situation was not much better at the full directors meeting later last June. The budget documents were woefully inadequate and were not responsive to questions raised earlier at the Finance Subcommittee meeting.

“The budget failed to make meaningful year-to-year comparisons and came late to both directors and the public. And then CIRM Chairman Robert Klein – in a bit of financial flim-flam – described the spending plan as a three percent decrease, when it actually was a 25 percent increase. CIRM compounded that misrepresentation by enshrining it -- albeit with qualifiers -- in a press release.”
We also queried Gibbons concerning an earlier version of the Finance Subcommittee agenda which said it would consider “funding sources to cover budget requirements.” That language was dropped from later versions of the agenda.

On Tuesday, Gibbons said,
“That wording was a cut-and-paste carryover from a prior meeting and in light of our current funding situation, it is no longer relevant.”
His comment apparently referred to the fact that CIRM now has bond funding that will carry it through the end of 2011.

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